Weekly News Round Up #1

Weekly News Round Up #1

May 6 - May 11

  1. Google launches Pixel 3a & 3a XL

In a not-so-surprise move, Google announced brand new Pixel smartphones at Google I/O 2019 for a deeper move into developing countries. The company is already struggling with its premium Pixels as fewer people are upgrading every year. This launch comes after Apple's introduction of the not-so-cheap XR model and Samsung's outstanding midrange-flagship Galaxy S10e.

Pixel 3a XL unboxing by Geekyranjit

Specs include:

  • 5.8" (Pixel 3a) & 6"(Pixel 3a XL) OLED display respectively
  • Snapdragon 670
  • 4 GB RAM & 64 GB storage
  • 3000 mAh (Pixel 3a) & 3700 mAh (Pixel 3a XL) battery
  • 12.1 MP Camera
  • 18W Fast charging

Both phones have the same computational prowess in the camera department as is synonymous with Google now. However, both of the phones lack the Pixel Visual Core chip used for faster processing of image. But I wonder if it will help in any sales outside of the US as the pricing of $399 for Pixel 3a and $479 for Pixel 3a XL only stands budget for the America. In India though, the Pixel 3a sells for ₹39,999 ($569) and ₹44,999 ($640) which puts it right on par with OnePlus which has far superior specs.

2. Android Q will bring system-wide dark mode, live transcription, important updates through Play Store, better privacy controls and more

Developers can also use a Force Dark feature that automatically turns the colours in an app.

After years of neglect, Google is finally bringing system wide native dark mode. It is true dark mode unlike some other UI which offer dark grey so it will significantly increase the battery life of those OLED display smartphones.

Google will also introduce system wide live captioning of video and audio in Android Q which will help people with disabilities. It is amazing how they have achieved this.

Project Mainline is Google's latest attempt to make updating crucial Android components more streamlined. Essentially they will deliver important updates right through the Play Store and they have also made it open source so that non-Play Store phones like those sold in China can also take advantage of this system.

More controls to the user

Google will also bring more in-depth privacy control features similar to what Apple has been providing in iPhones for years. It was about time. Apple has been bashing other companies for their use of user data to serve ads and even went as far to put up a billboard opposite to the CES convention.

Also, Google Maps is getting an incognito mode. Google says it won't ever store your search data when you are incognito.

3. Massive data leak at Samsung

Samsung yet to confirm any unauthorized access

Highly sensitive information has been inadvertently made accessible to the public on GitLab as discovered by Mossab Hussein, a security researcher at Dubai based cybersecurity firm SpiderSilk. The information included source code, credentials and secret keys for several internal projects at Samsung including SmartThings and Bixby. Samsung is still working on the issue.

4. Germany testing overhead electric cable system to charge trucks

A new type of highway is being tested in Germany that if successful will be another step towards zero emission transportation. The 9.6 km long stretch of "eHigway" near the city of Frankfurt uses 670 volt DC overhead cables which let electric trucks draw power kind of in a similar manner to electric trains. The program is called ELISA (electrified innovative heavy traffic on the Autobahn) and is sponsored by the environment ministry of Germany.

A massive undertaking to achieve zero emissions transportation

Siemens says that this technology will save €20,000 (₹15,73,430) for a 40-ton truck over 62,100 miles. Siemens also developed a €70 million truck for this purpose. A similar trial was held in Carson, Los Angeles in 2017.

5. Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes suggests to break up Facebook

Hughes was one of the core members of the early Facebook team who helped Mark transform the dorm room project into a multi-million dollar corporation. He says that Mark Zuckerberg has "unchecked power" and influence "far beyond that of anyone in the private of govt. sector".

As we have seen from recent reports, Facebook indeed has the power to move masses and even dictate political actions of a country. Let's not forget that most countries want to regulate social media sites particularly Facebook, in the event of any crisis. Read on more in this extensive post on New York Times.


Asit Khanda

Photographer & Gadget Nerd. Founder of ProgressPlanet. I love to dive deep into the simplest stuff because they have the greatest effect on us. My articles focus around my experience with technology.

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